Stories from our international boarding schools

Enrichment week: The Islands Project

During our Enrichment week last week students took part in our first islands project over three days of the Enrichment Week. The islands project is a large group project where students are given the responsibility and task of creating their own island nation from scratch having to face all the challenges that they may bring.

Islands is a cross-curricular off-timetable event that touches upon the curriculum content of multiple disciplines as well as promoting the use of ‘soft’ or transferable skills all within a globally aware context.

It is an opportunity for students to synthesise understanding, to problem solve, to work collaboratively within and across groups, to explore concepts of freedom and democracy and how their collective and personal actions have an impact, in economic, environmental as well as societal terms, at both the local and global level.

The premise of the project is that students are given the responsibility of creating their island nation and at the start of the project were given the following scenario.

Our students are fleeing persecution from an unnamed nation and have escaped in four boats.

The boats cross the sea but a storm separates them.

The four boats land on different islands.

Each island has a different climate and differe nt resources.

They have to build a successful society.

Because this was a whole school project we had four islands using our  four schools houses which meat that we had up to seventy students in each island group. The islands had some key tasks to get started and therefore split into different groups allowing them to achieve different goals.

Government – Create laws, produce a party political broadcast, create links with other islands, etc.

Scientists – Research into climate threats, hold inter-island seminars, discuss findings with the media, etc.

Cultural Creators – Create the culture of the island, national anthem, foundation myth or epic poem, etc.

Media (three groups) – Create (pro and anti government) newspapers that report the news,  might misreport the science news, etc. One group of documentary makers, creating a ‘Life on the Island’ Nat Geo style film.

Cartographers – Build giant models of their islands that reflect the changes made.

Department of Trade – Develop trade links with other islands, promote investment.

Business Leaders – Lobbying the government for better business conditions, driving for the lowest possible cost, working within the trade deals agreed by the department of trade.

Once these groups were established they set about establishing laws, making trade deals and maximizing resources and creating large island models based on the briefs they were given.

As the projects developed the scenarios given began to change so that the groups would have to deal with new situations and deal with the consequences of their decisions.  All of this culminates in the islands either prospering or in some cases faces disaster.

The level to which the students got involved in this was amazing. A walk around the school was often a little strange because you would hear students making trade deals in  the corridors or debating the value of direct or indirect democracy. It was also great to see students from across the school who you often don’t see mixing in school working together. This was such a great project for students to be involved in on so many levels and was something that truly enriched their educational experience.

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